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A monochromator selects and then transmits light of a narrow band of wavelengths. This example is a double monochromator with two prisms. It was designed by Pieter Hendrik Van Cittert (1889-1959), a Dutch physicist and, in time, founding director of the Utrecht University Museum. The “KIPP / DELFT HOLLAND” inscription at the slit refers to the maker, an old instrument firm that worked closely with the Dutch scientific community.
A tag on one foot reads “IMPORTED BY / JAMES G. BIDDLE / PHILADELPHIA.” Biddle boasted that this instrument “gives monochromatic light of great purity” and could be used to measure the distribution of energy through a spectrum.” It was also useful for absorption measurements, calibration of standard lamps, and control of the sensitivity of photographic plates for different colors. And it measured wavelengths as narrow as 15A. It could be had with flint glass prisms or, for much more money, with quartz prisms of the Cornu form.
Some small pieces are missing.
Ref: P. H. van Cittert, “Un Monochromateur de grande Luminosité et avec peu de Lumière Diffuse,” Revue d’Optique 2 (1923) 57-60.
P. H. van Cittert, “Zur Theorie der Doppelmonochromatoren, Zeitschrift für Instrumentenkunde 46 (1926): 557-563.
P. J. Kipp & Zonen, Glass Double Monochromator.
James G. Biddle Co. ad in Science 74 (Oct. 9. 1931): 13.
K. S. Gibson, “Apparatus for Accurate and Rapid Measurement of Spectral Transmission and Reflection,” Journal of the Optical Society of America 18 (1929): 166.
Currently not on view
Object Name
date made
Kipp & Zonen
place made
Netherlands: South Holland, Delft
overall: 12 1/2 in; 31.75 cm
overall: 12 5/8 in x 17 3/4 in x 11 1/2 in; 32.0675 cm x 45.085 cm x 29.21 cm
ID Number
catalog number
accession number
Credit Line
National Bureau of Standards
Science & Scientific Instruments
See more items in
Medicine and Science: Physical Sciences
Data Source
National Museum of American History
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